New York never fails to redeem itself.
A clinically certified New Yorker keeps quoting "either E.B. White, ('Here is New York') or Joan Didion ('Goodbye to all that'). Actually, he now claims can't locate that passage anywhere in the above two writings, and I suspect in his rabidity about his domicile of 25 years, he made it up himself.
No matter - how this blow in from Downunder spent New Year's Eve upover in 2009, is a testament to it.
And I was nowhere near the mirrored ball in Times Square.
Instead, I spent most of the day sheltering from the snow, working on a newsletter for Bike Friday.
At 4pm I wrapped myself up in everything Smartwool I own, pulled rubber rainboots, unfolded the Speeding tikit and pedaled uptown. The snow and ice were thick, with mirror-slick patches requiring careful negotiation in the icy bike lane.
First, I arrived at Caroline Fu's office to take delivery of more Traffic Cone Bags to fulfil the orders that have been piling up.
Next, I went to post a small parcel and on discovering the post office closed and the box tightly locked, was invited by the driver of a waiting, revving USPS truck to pass it through the window. Ah, a proactive postal service - what a nice way to start the new decade!
Then, as I was riding south, someone shouted out from the footpath - John Trotter, a professional photographer and fellow Bike Friday (Pocket Rocket Pro) owner who recognized me from the website. It was only when I got home that I discovered his utterly amazing story about being savagely beaten to within an inch of his life by thugs years ago, his recovery and relationship of that experience to his work.
I'll be writing more about John for sure. Meanwhile, check his blog, which features the above photo of himself and his Bike Friday + trailer on his current project, documenting the depletion of the Colorado River. I've put him on the Bike Friday photographers' page. I hope to meet him for lunch in the next couple of days.
Then I stopped by the Three Tarts right in the middle of their annual 50% off treats sale for a matcha (green tea) latte expertly pulled by their cheery and dashing frontman Peter Wojtkunski. This is a dangerous place to be if you are on a lettuce diet. I started this matcha latte addiction on my Japan trip, progressed to Starbucks (except their matcha latte is too sweet, even without sugar), and have progressed to Three Tarts.
On stepping back into the street, a woman approached me and asks "Is that a Dahon?" Turn's out she's long time resident, has toured on a regular bike, lost her nerve after her wheels skid out from under her on ice and she couldn't jump away. When she regained her nerve, she switched to the joy of a low stepover, folding bike. "I ride it everywhere, every day, past 4 and a half years."
We go to swap cards. She starts searrching in her bags and then, frantically patting down her clothes. She's left her wallet on the bus, with all money and credit cards. It's New Year's Eve. Have you noticed that Christmas Eve, NY's Eve, and other major holiday Eves are precisely when inconvenient things and truths tend to happen, and you end up needing to make frantic calls, arrangements etc?
She asks me if I'd ride a block away and stop the bus on its return leg. I jump aboard my tikit and do so. She eventually catches up on foot. No bus in sight, except ones saying "Not In Service." She's making some frantic calls to her friend who lives near the terminus. I have a dinner date, but for some reason find myself rooted to the spot not wanting to leave until it has been resolved either way. She turns down my offer to loan her a few bucks to tide her over the holiday, and then bingo - her friend finds the wallet - on the seat in the bus where she left it. Mind you, her friend was not allowed to enter the bus while the driver was taking his break ... so had to freeze in the snow outside.
At 6pm, I proceed back to my digs, and then meet a friend to eat a fancy meal at a local restaurant despite having ample leftovers in the fridge.
Once back at the apartment, I spend most of the night watching YouTube videos, eating cake and studying John Trotter's amazing story and site.
Here's what I watched on YouTube - pretty well on repeat:
Susan Boyle "Wild Horses", circa Dec 2009
Kate Ceberano's "Always Got The Blues", circa 1988 - one of Australia's greatest female vocalists
Umbilical Bros "Motorcycle Cop" One of Australia's most unique talents
So I was nowhere near Times Square, where the most interesting thing going is the Charmin toilet station. But in the 2 hours between 4 and 6pm I really got what my friend keeps telling me: New York never fails to redeem itself.
Pictured: Empire State and Casa Havana, near where I sit. America meets Cuba - let's face it, the world, on the street in New York City